This year’s March Meeting, took place from 12 – 13th and was attended by our Collectionair Team. The project was conceived as a way to “organise encounters between a range of art organisations in the Arab World” and is thriving in its 9th cycle. Hosted by Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, president of the Sharjah Art Foundation, the programme boasted an eclectic line up curators invited to talk about the topic of Education, Engagement and Participation.
For Collectionair, the presentation by curator Melissa Karmen Lee and a panel discussion including Zoe Butt held particularly true to The March Meeting’s agenda of “bringing individuals and ideas together through an optimistic belief in the power of communality”.
Melissa Karmen Lee, of the Slought Foundation, USA, discussed three online exhibitions curated in 2015. Discussing how online exhibitions could implement change, awareness and solidarity between the public and artist communities was a cause close to Collectionair’s heart! Particularly interesting was Melissa’s concept of creating online artist commissions to engage a wider audience and push the boundaries of interpreting art through digital space.
A panel discussion with a variety of curators, including Zoe Butt of San – Art, Vietnam, explored curatorial practices in relation to institutional mandates such as public festivals, art spaces, libraries and live programming. Zoe, having left her position as Director of International Programs at the Long March Project in Beijing, established San – Art of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. With no budget and no team her admirable determination has paid off. San – Art is now one of Vietnam’s most progressive art spaces, allowing artists to explore their notions and ideas freely. For Zoe, her “artists are her audience”, it is not about encouraging the creation of stereotypical or easily accepted art works, but about providing a nurturing space in a place that does not easily accomadote such a phenomenon.
Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi’s hard work is to be highly commended; bridging the gap between Sharjah and the Arab World’s more conservative population and the largely liberal contemporary art world.